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Concerning The Divine Science of Tarot
DIVINE SCIENCE OF TAROT
Issued by the
Thelemic Order and Temple
of the Golden Dawn
(Novus Ordo Aureae Aurora)
October, 1990 e.v.
In Association with
New Falcon Publications and
the Israel Regardie Foundation, Inc.
By Sir David Cherubim
(Frater Superior Chief)
Copyright (C) 1990 e.v.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
The origin of the Tarot is unknown. It is often associated with
the Ancient Egyptian Mysteries and is said to be a development
therefrom. The oldest Tarot cards known today were prepared in
1392 for King Charles VI of France by Jacques Gringonneur,
painter, astrologer and qabalist. In England the Tarot was known
in the reign of Edward IV during the fifteenth century. The
Gypsies say that the secret knowledge of the Tarot was originally
brought by their people from Chaldea and Egypt into Israel and
thence to Greece. In the Middle Ages the Tarot cards were much
used for fortune telling, especially by the Gypsies.
According to a famous tradition, the Tarot was created in the
year 1200 A.D. This tradition states that the creators of the
Tarot were a group of enlightened Adepts who met in the city of
Fez which, after the great Library at Alexandria was destroyed,
became the intellectual capital of the world to which came wise
men of all nations, speaking various tongues. Their meetings
were made difficult due to the differences in their languages and
philosophical terminology. So they decided to contain the most
important of their teachings in a book made of universal symbols,
based on the data of the Holy Qabalah.
Court de Gebelin of the eighteenth century was the first to make
the curious suggestion that the Tarot might be of Egyptian
origin. The "Marseilles Deck" originated from the Tarot cards
depicted in Gebelin's book called, "Le Monde Primitif," published
in the year 1773. Tradition states that Thoth or Tahuti, the
Egyptian God of Magick, was the inventor of Tarot. Thoth is the
Egyptian equivalent of the Greek god Hermes and the Roman
Mercury. He is the inventor of all sciences, arts and mysteries.
Thoth-Hermes-Mercury represents the Universal Mind, the true and
living source of all the arcane methods of understanding and
utilizing the forces of Nature and the Universe. The twenty-two
Major Arcana cards of Tarot are called the Atu of Thoth, that is,
the Abodes or Keys of Thoth. The Tarot is the Temple of the God
Thoth or the Universal Mind, wherein Thoth speaks to the
initiate. Symbols are the language of the Universal Mind. By the
use of occult symbols the initiate can make inner contact with
the Universal Mind and expand upon his knowledge of the Universe.
The Tarot is the Hermetic Book of the Dead, with Thoth-Hermes-
Mercury as its sole guide. By proper occult use of the Tarot, we
can indeed pass through the various portals of the underworld to
achieve the sublime life of immortality. The underworld is
simply the subconscious mind within. Thoth-Hermes-Mercury is the
Superconscious Mind which guides the soul through the various
portals within and leads the soul to the sublime heights of
Universal Light and Immortality.
It has been suggested that the word Tarot is derived from the
Egyptian terms Tar ( = Way or Road) and Ro ( = King or Royal).
Thus the Tarot is the Royal Road or Way of the King. It has
further been suggested that the word Tarot is derived from
the Latin term Rota ( = Wheel), which is the source of the word
Rotation. The Tarot is the Rotating Wheel of Universal Forces.
It is the Wheel of Life (see example of Wheel on Fortune Atu of
Tarot, Number X).
The twenty-two Major Arcana (Major Secrets) of Tarot are the
twenty-two Universal Forces represented by the twenty-two Hebrew
letters and the twenty-two Paths of the Qabalistic Tree of Life.
Eliphas Levi of the nineteenth century was the first to make a
connection between the twenty-two Major Arcana Cards with the
twenty-two letters of the Hebrew or Angelic Alphabet.
The Major Arcana or Atus of Thoth are also symbolized by the Ten
Sephiroth of the Tree of Life and the Twelve Astrological Signs.
Twenty-two in Occult Mathematics is the number of the Circle.
The Circle represents a complete manifestation and cycle of
universal forces. The Circle is a symbol of the Whole Universe.
There are twenty-two essential forces which constitute this
Universe, which we may define as being the real elements of our
conscious and subconscious lives. The Major Arcana are symbols
of these real elements which we may use to penetrate the Veil of
Isis, to partake of the Supreme Sacrament of Eternal Wisdom.
The following is a listing of the Ten Sephiroth and their
corresponding Tarot Trumps: Kether is the Fool; Chokmah is the
Magus; Binah is the Priestess; Chesed is Fortune (or Wheel of
Fortune); Geburah is the Tower; Tiphareth is the Sun; Netzach is
the Empress; Hod is the Aeon (or Judgement); Yesod is the Hanged
Man; Malkuth is the Universe (or the World).
The following is a listing of the Twelve Astrological Signs and
their corresponding Tarot Trumps: Aries is the Emperor; Taurus
is the Hierophant; Gemini is the Lovers; Cancer is the Chariot;
Leo is Lust (or Strength); Virgo is the Hermit; Libra is
Adjustment (or Justice); Scorpio is Death; Sagittarius is Art (or
Temperance); Capricorn is the Devil; Aquarius is the Star; and
Pisces is the Moon.
The Tarot is a book of Ageless Wisdom. In its symbolism can be
discovered the inner mysteries of all things, the living facts of
all that ever was, is, and shall be. By proper meditation on the
Tarot, we can extend our vision of the Universe and begin to
perceive new dimensions of thought and reality. We can begin to
see the real and essential nature of things, hidden beyond the
veils of matter. The Tarot can be applied to all conditions in
life. It is a most practical means to achieving the practical
life of wisdom and understanding. The Tarot can be used to
produce more exalted states of conscious awareness. It is a
scientific means of achieving spiritual, mental and physical
expansion, for greater realization and knowledge in Light.
The Tarot, like all true systems of inner initiation, is entirely
a system of Self-Initiation. It is designed to induce in the
aspirant certain definite states of consciousness which lead to
greater self-awareness. It is for reason of the aspirant that
the Tarot is in existence, and it is up to him to use it for the
august development of his own self-expansion. The aspirant uses
the Tarot to initiate himself into the Inner Mysteries of the
Ageless Wisdom. They are keys to the Inner Sanctuary of the
The Tarot is designed in such a manner to allow the aspirant to
travel a Royal Road to the Divine Wisdom. In this case, there are
twenty-two steps symbolized by the twenty-two Atu of Thoth. Each
Atu is experienced in consciousness and absorbed into the very
fibre of one's being. By this process the aspirant consciously
experiences unity with each of the twenty-two forces symbolized
by the twenty-two Atus of Thoth, and he inevitably attains the
goal of the divine life, which is symbolized by the Crown of
Light, in the highest sphere of the Universal Mind.
In Tarot, Wands represent Fire, Cups represent Water, Swords
represent Air, and Pentacles represent Earth. The Minor Arcana
cards which portray these elements represent those elements in
various modes of expression. The Major Arcana cards represent the
inner mysteries of the so-called element of Spirit. The former
correspond with the four letters of the Holy Tetragrammaton, the
four Kerubim, the four quarters, and the four seasons. The
latter corresponds with the Hebrew Letter Shin, which represents
the element of Spirit.
The Four Face Cards or Court Cards (Figures of Nobility) also
correspond with the Holy Tetragrammaton (IHVH) and the four
Magical Elements. The Knight (or King) is Yod and Fire, the
Queen is Heh and Water, the Prince is Vav and Air, and the
Princess is Heh final and Earth. These represent a family of
forces symbolized by Father, Mother, Son and Daughter.
Now observe that 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10 = the Ten Sephiroth on the
Qabalistic Tree of Life = The Principal Forces of the Universe.
Tora, Rota, Troa and Taro have four letters each. Four is the
number of the Tetragrammaton, and ten is the number of its mystic
extension represented by the Ten Sephiroth on the Tree of Life.
In Atu X is contained and written all the mysteries of Tarot
(Taro), that is, all the wisdom of the Sephiroth of the Holy Tree
of Eternal Knowledge. Proper and persistent meditation on this
Atu of Thoth will yield infinite fruits of wisdom and knowledge,
for in it are the keys to the attainment of the Universal Mind.
The Major Arcana of Tarot can be used in such a form so as to
elucidate upon Qabalistic Mysteries. For example, let us consider
the Hebrew letter Shin. This letter is composed of three Hebrew
Vavs, so that its true number is 666, which is the most sacred
number of Our Lord the Sun. In magick it is the sacred letter of
the God Set. Now translated qabalistically, the number 666 is
Mem, Samech and Vav. The particular Tarot Atus of Thoth which
correspond with these particular Hebrew letters are the Hanged
Man, Art and the Hierophant. The numbers of these particular
Tarot Atus of Thoth are 12 (Hanged Man), 14 (Art), and 5
(Hierophant). Now 12 + 14 + 5 = 31, the number of the God AL.
Therefore in the letter Shin, according to this Tarot scheme, is
concealed the God AL. 31 is also the number of LA, a Hebrew word
meaning "Not." In the Science of the Qabalah, there is a system
called Gematria which states that any two words having the same
numerical value are descriptions of each other or of a single
idea. AL (All) is LA (Nothing) and LA (Nothing) is AL (All). AL
and LA are key words of Liber Legis (The Book of the Law), and
have much importance for students of Thelema. 31 is the key
number of Liber Legis. Shin, which is the letter of Path 31 on
the Tree of Life, is the letter of the New Aeon.
Also observe that Set in Hebrew is spelled Shin-Teth. Now the
Atu of Thoth which corresponds with the letter Shin is The Aeon
and the Atu of Thoth which corresponds with Teth is Lust. The
number of The Aeon is 20 and the number of Lust is 11. 20 + 11 =
31. So by our Holy Qabalah, Set and AL are descriptions of a
single force. The Tarot once again shines its sublime light on
the Mysteries! It is most remarkable in its wondrous powers to
illumine the minds of the initiates. The initiate can apply the
Major Arcana of Tarot in innumerable ways to attain innumerable
insights into the infinite Mysteries of the Qabalah.
Eliphas Levi, that Old French Magus, said the following sublime
and revealing words concerning the Divine Science of Tarot:
"The Tarot is a veritable oracle, and replies to all possible
questions with precision and infallibility. A prisoner, with no
other book than the Tarot, if he knew how to use it, could in a
few years acquire a universal science, and would be able to speak
on all subjects with unequalled learning and inexhaustible
eloquence. The oracles of the Tarot give answers as exact as
mathematics, and as measured as the harmonies of Nature. By the
aid of these signs and their infinite combinations, it is
possible to arrive at the natural and mathematical revelation of
all secrets of Nature. The practical value of the Tarot is truly
and above all marvelous."
"The Tarot is a truly philosophical machine which prevents the
mind from going astray, even while leaving it its own initiative
and freedom; it is mathematics in their application to the
absolute, the alliance of the real and the ideal, a lottery of
thoughts, all of which are rigorously exact, like numbers; in
fine, it is perhaps at once the simplest and grandest thing ever
conceived by human genius."
"All secrets of the Qabalah and Magic, all mysteries of the elder
world, all sciences of the patriarchs, all historical traditions
of primeval times, are enclosed in the Hieroglyphical Book of
"Without the Tarot, the Magic of the ancients is a closed book,
and it is impossible to penetrate any of the great mysteries of
As you can see, the Tarot is no deck of fun, designed for the use
of games or gambling. It is rather one of the most remarkable and
effective scientific methods of initiating oneself into the
Supreme Knowledge of the Gods, and inevitably leads one to the
gates of the Holy Sanctuary of Eternal Wisdom, where man becomes
immortalized in his soul. The Tarot is a highly scientific,
philosophical and psychological tool. It is designed for the
initiation of mankind, and its mysteries are eternal in the Light
of the Golden Dawn, in that Sublime Splendour wherein all
initiates partake of the Supreme Sacrament of the Eternal Spirit.
Love is the law, love under will.
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